A Taste of Honey ‘Ladies of the Eighties’ (BBR) 3/5

a-taste-of-honeyFemale duet Taste of Honey scored a major disco hit with the extended 12″ version of ‘Boogie Oogie Oogie’ back in 1978 with Mizell brothers in genial attendance and differed from other disco divas of the era in that they could actually play their own instruments as well as sing. Their self-titled debut album entered the Billboard charts as did its solid if unspectacular follow-up, ‘Another Time (1979), and then they unexpectedly returned with arguably their strongest album under the ace production talents of George Duke with ‘Twice as Sweet’ from 1980 and this contained another strong dance number in ‘Rescue Me’ and a real left-field gem in ‘Sukiyaki’.
Fast forward a couple of years to 1982 and there was a marked change in direction, reflecting the new technological innovations in instrumentation with synths the order of the day. Production duties this time round would be shared between Al McKay of Earth, Wind and Fire and Ronald La Pread of the Commodores. The result was something of a mixed affair with some high points for sure, but an overall feel that lost Taste of Honey that key foothold in the charts and this would in fact be the last album that the pair recorded together before eventually splitting up and pursuing separate careers. By 1982 disco had morphed into boogie and something was definitely lost in the process in that instrumentation became standardised and the human element that is so crucial to music was consequently lost in the process.

That said. Taste of Honey were always a class act and able to rise above the rest of the crowd and this is evident on songs such as ‘Never go wrong’ where the production of McKay is all too apparent and the Earth, Wind and Fire influence makes this number a worthy ‘After the love has gone’ Pt. 2 contender while the Japanese-flavoured opener, ‘Sayonara’ sought to replicate the success of ‘Sukiyaki’. A clear indicator that the duo of Janice Marie Johnson and Hazel Payne were contemplating new avenues was given in the second single to surface off the album, a Smokey Robinson cover, ‘I’ll try something new’ which became a top ten R & B single and appealed to their core audience. In marked contrast uptempo songs such as ‘Lies’ and Diamond Real’ have not stood the test of time well and now sound somewhat dated with their layered synths and artificially created synth drumming. Extensive and informative inner sleeve notes completed the picture on the duo’s career and include some stunning photos of the pair at their creative zenith.

Tim Stenhouse